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Please correct me if I am wrong here.

I am too lazy in my old age ........... ;)

1. The Heuschkel unit served in 1919-20 ??

2. The Ober/Stabsgefreiter badge dates from 1921 ??

3. The TK is an official WW1 FW badge ............. not a later unofficial one .............. but is still worn long after it should have been removed, according to the instructions of the Crown Prince ??

So .............. both the WW1 FW TK and the Heuschkel badge were worn unofficially after 1920 ??

The Freikorps units were virtually banned by the National Disarmament Law (Entwaffnungsgesetz) of 1920. Some Freikorps units were absorbed into the Reichswehr and continued to wear their insignia until about 1921. Essentially you're right. After November 11, 1918 the official flamethrower Totenkopf was banned, and after August 11, 1920, most Freikorps insignia were banned.

By the way, I've exchanged e-mails with the guy who runs the Web site with the embroidered badge, and he says he'll send me a high-resolution copy of the photo of the "Flammen-Kommando" that has a Totenkopf on the signboard. I think it dates from 1914. That would be pretty fascinating if true.

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And here's Bernhard Reddemann in the background, the big guy with a notebook and pencil, his overcoat on his shoulder. The flamethrower is the Kleif M.1914. Notice that he doesn't have a Totenkopf sle

IR92 tankard lid............

Brunswick HR17 flask...............(with Prussian skull !!)

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I've exchanged e-mails with the guy who runs the Web site with the embroidered badge, and he says he'll send me a high-resolution copy of the photo of the "Flammen-Kommando" that has a Totenkopf on the signboard. I think it dates from 1914. That would be pretty fascinating if true.

You are a hero !

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Just noticed ............. the GKSK photo stamp appears to date from 1919, unless old stamps were used by successor units.

When was the chevrons rank badge introduced? I thought it was 1921, but I may be mistaken (again!) :)

If I'm mistaken about the chevrons, the photo is probably from 1919.

I've got one that shows a flamethrower pioneer wearing one in 1916:

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It was fun making teeny little handlebar mustaches out of putty. I had to give up modeling because of my eyesight. To do that sort of work today, I'd need to lengthen my arms to nine feet and strap on a pair of binoclulars.

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Okay, another layer to the Flammenwefer-Totenkopf story:

This link was posted here a little earlier:


I asked the Web master for a high-res copy of the photo at the top of the page, and he agreed, under the condition that I not post it anywhere else. It turns out that the photo shows members of Flammenwerfer-Abteilung Reddemann in late 1914, sitting with Richard Fiedler, inventor of the flamethrower, and they've got a Totenkopf drawn on the signboard. The photo was taken at a factory in Westphalia, where they later built the Kleif M.1915, the weapon that looks very different from all the other Fiedler designs used by the flamethrower battalions and regiment.

I've traced an exact outline of the Totenkopf on the sign. It was drawn in chalk, which is why it looks so crude. To me, it's clearly a reference to "poison" or "danger" rather than any military unit or any part of German heritage. The original Fiedler flamethrowers were designed to spray either flame or poison gas; in fact, the Germans used flamethrowers to spray poison gas at Rawa on June 6, 1915.

So, I disagree with the Webmaster of the site, whose theory is that the flamethrower pioneers originated their Totenkopf insignia and then the higher authorities later approved it. According to my research, the Prussian-style Totenkopf worn by the flamethrower pioneers had a lot of historical and cultural significance, and the badge was considered a formal award, suggested by the Crown Prince and apporved by the Kaiser. I think the chalk Totenkopf drawn on the signboard by the members of Flammenwerfer-Abteilung Reddemann only represents "poison" or "Beware!" These men see themselves as dangerous dealers of death from flame and gas, so they label themselves as such.

Edited by Thomas W
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Very interesting.

Just a thought ....................

If the FW troops felt that a totenkopf should be adopted by them as early as 1914, maybe the later 'approved' insignia just happened to be the Prussian type because of its old associations with the Crown Prince and his Leibhusaren.

In other words, the KP was 'rubber stamping' what the FW troops wanted, using his own preference of TK.

In any event, Death always has the last laugh ................................

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